That was a very fun baseball game right there. Giancarlo mashed (how I missed that), Paxton rolled, Loiasiga looked disgusting, Chad Green was unhittable, Wade kept it up, and the Yankees easily dispatched the very annoying Blue Jays 7-2. Here is the box score. The Yanks even got some promising injury news before the game, too. Check that out here if you missed it.
This was their 101st win of the season, officially surpassing last year’s team. There are still 6 games to go, which means the Yankees have a real shot of surpassing the 2009 team in regular season wins. That would make this team the winningest Yankee team since the fabled 1998 season. What a ridiculously cursed and fun season for the Bronx Bombers.
Let’s get right to the takeaways.
1. James Paxton, Game 1 Starter: James Paxton has been excellent recently. He should and almost certainly will be the Game 1 starter. Obvious statement is obvious, I know. But let’s put this in perspective a bit before diving into today’s performance. Here are some key stats entering today’s game for James since August 1 (when he started making some adjustments), with his rank among 61 qualified starters in parentheses:
- Wins: 9 (1st)
- Losses: 0 (1st)
- BAA: .168 (5th)
- WHIP: 0.96 (8th)
- ERA: 2.50 (12th)
- FIP: 3.33 (14th)
- fWAR: 1.7 (7th)
Our man has been one of the best pitchers in the entire league, and as James Smyth notes here, he’s been a truly dominant force in the American League. Check it out:
Today’s game is yet another example of this sustained run of dominance for the lefty. Here was his line: 6.0 IP, 3 H, 1 R (0 ER), 0 BB, 7 K. 63 of h is 87 pitches (73%) went for strikes. His season ERA is now down to 3.73. Remember when people complained about this guy constantly? Yeah. Me too. It was dumb then and it looks even dumber now. Here’s the strike zone plot from the game:
Here was his pitch usage for the day:
- Fastball: 32
- Changeup: 2
- Cutter: 10
- Knuckle Curve: 19
His curve had a 40% whiff-per-swing rate and overall, he generated a whiff on 25% of the Blue Jays’ swings today. He has been just so good and so fun to watch. He is pitching with confidence like he knows nobody can touch him. And right now, they can’t.
The only run he allowed followed an uncharacteristic Didi error (he just booted the ball, it happens) and came on this:
It happens. This was yet another great performance by James Paxton. The dude has been everything the Yankees expected and more. I don’t know about you, but I’m going to feel awfully good about having him on the mound in a few weeks.
2. Please Hit Judge and Giancarlo Back-to-Back in October: The bottom of the 4th inning was a very promising one for the Yankees. Down 1-0, Aaron Judge led off with a scorching double. It came off the bat at more than 114 mph and was one of those classic Judge hits that we all know and love. Gregorius then grounded out, which brought everyone’s favorite rehabbing slugger to the plate. He did this:
That one left the bat at 105 mph and was a no-doubt double. It was very similar to the hit he got in his first at-bat back a few days ago. It’s great to see Giancarlo turn this pitch into that:
That was a 92 mph sinker biting in and he ripped it into the gap. Good stuff.
Anyway, I think this is yet more evidence that the Yankees should really hit Judge and Giancarlo back-to-back once the games start meaning something again. I mean:
- Giancarlo Stanton: .268/.358/.546 (142 wRC+) in 4,870 PA
- Aaron Judge: .273/.395/.556 (152 wRC+) in 1,694 PA
I get that there are concerns about hitting too many righties back-to-back or whatever. I do. And I also understand that the Yankees really believe in that, or something similar, because they have used Didi or Hicks or whoever to split these guys up a lot over the last year and 11 games (insert crying emoji re: Giancarlo). The Yankees are smart, data-driven, and analytical, so perhaps there’s something in their proprietary data that shows how important that is. I certainly trust the team. I’m just some idiot with a keyboard, after all.
*John Sterling Voice* Howevah!
Splitting those two dudes up makes no sense to me at all. Those are not “normal” right-handed hitters and that’s without even considering the fact that Gregorius is hitting just .244/.284/.455 (84 wRC+) this season. Stack these two guys back-to-back. There is a real fear factor there, and that’s without considering the potential of Edwin Encarnación or Gary Sánchez hitting behind them. Make it hell on the other team. Seriously. Make it hell on them and give them no breaks. If that means stacking righties, so be it.
I mean…look at what Giancarlo is capable of:
I think that about says it all.
3. Tyler Wade Will be A Useful October Player: He can’t and shouldn’t play much come October, but Tyler Wade is showing his skillset for the first time in his professional career. The Yankees have given him chances in each of the last few years despite him looking completely lost at the plate prior to this month. He’s a.197/.266/.300 (52 wRC+) career hitter but hitting .364/.417/.636 (172 wRC+) this month. 2019, man.
Anyway, after his hilarious 400-foot homer last night, Wade again showed his usefulness today: his speed. Statcast data shows that he’d be the fastest NYY regular, and boy, he showed it today. First, he stole 3rd on a heads up play that has no video–it was a delayed steal, and he caught the Blue Jays napping and took advantage. It was great.
Then he scored from second on this base hit from Kyle Higashioka:
Wade is not going to be a critical piece of the October run or anything, but his adept base running skills and elite speed demonstrate his value. He will play and he may be useful if the Yankees late in a one-run game. He makes a sac fly easier, can steal bags, and is clearly a heads-up type of runner. The Yankees are a lot of things, but fast is not one of them. Wade brings that dynamic to the team and I expect it will play some sort of a role in October, should the Yankees make a deep enough run at least. Besides, there’s this from YES’ Jeff Quagliata:
4. It’s Me, Your Official Jonathan Loaisiga Stan: I love Jonathan Loaisiga. I always have. I really hope he makes the postseason roster as the last guy out of the pen–with Germán out of the picture (good riddance), there is a spot for both him and Cessa anyway. It’s hard not to see Loaisiga’s upside, try how you might. Here was his line: 2.0 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 5 K. Notably no walks, which is important because that’s the only downside to his game.
I know he gave up a run today, but leave that aside for a moment and focus just on his stuff. He maxed out at 99.8 mph and made the Jays whiff 38% of the time. 3 of those 5 whiffs came on his curveball, and it’s tough not to see why. That pitch has a spin rate north of 2,800 this year, which is insane. It honestly is. Couple that with a fastball that touches 100 and you might have a real weapon out of the bullpen. I know he’s struggled a bit, but he’s just 24 years old. He is filthy, and I mean FILTHY, when he has it working. And he’s had it working recently.
Including today, he has just 4 walks in his last 9.1 IP. Yes, that’s still too many, but he’s allowed one or fewer in 5 of his last 6 appearances. He looks like he’s putting it together. Now, it may not be until next year and it all depends on his health, but I think the Yankees have themselves a real weapon here in Loaisiga. I really do.
- Joe West, Certified Clown: Joe West was at it again today because beclowning himself one in a series is apparently not enough for MLB’s most well-known umpire. Last night, of course, West made several egregious calls in the 9th inning. None more so than this one. The Yankees’ understandable displeasure carried over into today and, after a few questionable calls against the Yanks in the bottom of the first, West ejected Aaron Boone…from 3rd base. Boone was clearly heated and arguing balls and strikes is always a dangerous game, but give me a break. There is no chance West could hear Boone from his vantage point. Oh well. Here’s the video, courtesy of the YES Network:
- Stanton’s Defense: As I mentioned earlier, these last few games are now about fine-tuning for the playoffs. One of the important things to watch will be Giancarlo in the field, and he did get a chance today. It was a lazy fly ball in the 3rd inning. Nothing notable, really, but the Yankees’ best October lineup is one with Giancarlo in left field, not as DH, so any reps for Giancarlo out there at all, easy are not, are good to see. This is basically Spring Training for him, after all. That’s why Maybin replaced him once this one became a laugher. I don’t know about you, but boy am I impressed with Giancarlo so far.
- It’s Still Truck Month: Have yourself a game, Mike Ford! Ford was 3-4 with a double and a pair of RBIs today. You saw one of the RBI singles above. Here’s the other one:
The final home game of the regular season! Isn’t that wild? This year has been extremely memorable for a lot of reasons, but it is nuts to think that it’s winding down. We’ve all been focused on the playoffs for so long that this seems kinda obvious, but it’s wild to think that this will be the final home game of the regular season. Time flies.
Anyway, tomorrow is an important one. Luis Severino (0-0, 0.00 ERA) will make his second start of the season and look to build on what was an extremely impressive and encouraging debut last week against the Angels. He’ll take on Trent Thorton (5-9, 4.93 ERA) of the Blue Jays in the 1:05 pm matinee. Catch the game on YES or WFAN, per usual. Enjoy the rest of your beautiful Saturday, everyone.